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AWANA - am I being unreasonable?


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My kids really like AWANA and so do I - it's a great program and they loved the challenge of memorizing their verses and playing games there.

We attended AWANA in PA before we moved here to Los Angeles and then finished up the AWANA year here in L.A.

I got the AWANA forms for this year. They state that if your kids are coming you MUST volunteer weekly, if not weekly then you must have extenuating circumstances.

However, if you have an "unchurched child attending" no volunteering is needed.

I am very disappointed to hear this. I know that everyone thinks they have the best reason why they should be exempt from helping. Mine isn't that great.

I feel guilty calling up the leader and saying, "i'm a homeschool mom of 3 kids, one of whom is a toddler. My dh is away on business trips approx. 15-20 days each month. I need AWANA for my kids and for me b/c I need a break." Really, that sounds completely selfish and terrible - I feel bad even writing it. But, it's true. Maybe I'm more needy than the average bear, but I volunteer at our 2 co-ops and I'm leading a chemistry group for 7 at my house weekly. Being able to take my kids to AWANA and know that they are getting a great night with Christian education that supplements what we're doing at home sounds like a fabulous thing to me.

Am I being unreasonable? If I'm not how can I present my case so I don't sound like a drain on the AWANA? If I am being unreasonable, please be gentle :tongue_smilie: DH just left again for a week "or more" he's not sure.

Thanks hive,

Michele

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As another mom with a DH who travels, I say you can play that card and should do so guilt free. ;)

 

WEEKLY? That's going to be a lot of adults there every week!!! And I think that's unreasonable to ask of people. I would rather send my kids to some place that I know all the adults want to be there and teaching children is a passion on their heart from G*d.

 

Just my opinion.

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Thanks guys...I hate being the one to say no.

I'm really bad at it!

The leader is an older man who is very stern and intimidating - so I am nervous of him! The co leader is a homeschool mom with teens that attends a co op we go to...so I'm concerned the "homeschool" excuse won't work!

Gulp, I'll just have to try.

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Our old church put a lot of pressure on parents to volunteer if they had children involved in the children's ministry (which meant committing to EVERY WEEK for the entire school year). The pastor would say that most of the volunteers were empty nesters or people who didn't have children yet. I wanted very much to ask him if he didn't see a pattern there - those of us with small children needed a BREAK, not more time with more kids! So, I never really did get into that. I tried a couple of time and did some stuff but ended up pulling out for various reasons.

 

I think you have valid reasons - not excuses - for not volunteering. If they can't offer you grace, and understand why it's too much for you to volunteer at this time in your life, find another church for AWANA.

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Thanks guys...I hate being the one to say no.

I'm really bad at it!

The leader is an older man who is very stern and intimidating - so I am nervous of him! The co leader is a homeschool mom with teens that attends a co op we go to...so I'm concerned the "homeschool" excuse won't work!

Gulp, I'll just have to try.

 

 

Where are you in SoCA? Our church has AWANA and you don't have to volunteer for your kids to attend. Also, there's a dinner served beforehand, so if you wanted to, for a small cost you could come to dinner with your kids and not have to cook that night, either! We're in the city of Orange in Orange County. PM me if you're close and want info.

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We're in the South Bay...

I try to keep it on a Thursday night - The other AWANA churches are all Wednesday nights. My ds has scouts on a Wednesday and that's a night I try to make "Girls' Night" for my dds while he's with dad. Plus, he'd be really bummed if the girls went and he didnt. He really liked AWANA more than anyone!

I'd hate to leave him out of something so great that encourages his Christian growth just b/c of a scheduling conflict with Scouts, kwim?

 

Michele

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We're in the South Bay...

I try to keep it on a Thursday night - The other AWANA churches are all Wednesday nights. My ds has scouts on a Wednesday and that's a night I try to make "Girls' Night" for my dds while he's with dad. Plus, he'd be really bummed if the girls went and he didnt. He really liked AWANA more than anyone!

I'd hate to leave him out of something so great that encourages his Christian growth just b/c of a scheduling conflict with Scouts, kwim?

 

Michele

 

Yes, ours is on Wednesday night, too. It sounds like you have a great routine going!

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If everyone is helping I don't see why you would need to be there every week. But I'm not sure your helping in all the co-ops is going to seem like a good reason to them. They might think you should drop one of those and help at church. Maybe say you are overwhelmed with your husband gone so much but you could help once a month or something.

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What I would do is to contact the leaders and tell them that you would really like your dc to have the benefit of Awanas at your church BUT that you are not able to volunteer. I would tell them that if that isn't ok then you will not send them (I would do this matter of factly because that's all it is - a fact, not a manipulation). I would not give them reasons because that is an invitation for people to evaluate your reasons and only you know if your reasons are valid for you, your stamina, mental health, spiritual health etc. If they asked for reasons I would gently but firmly say that I'm not willing to discuss my reasons because I am not willing to have them evaluated. I would tell them that I do understand that they need volunteers to keep things running and do not fault them for that. Then I would let the chips fall where they may.

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The thing is, this isn't our church. Our home church doesn't have AWANA.

 

This is a differrent church - it's a big one that hosts the BIIIGGG co op we attend. So it's not like they've never heard of homeschooling before.

Sadly, I do need the mental health break, I'm kind of blue now with dh just taking off into the wild blue yonder again after only 3 days here and school starting for us on Monday. I know my help comes from the Lord but it sure would be nice to add "Thursday Night AWANA" to that too!

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Our church really tries to push people with children in the children's program into volunteering, too. For those with kids in the nursery, they have a 'mandatory' volunteer schedule in Worship Care (during Sunday a.m. worship service) about once a quarter. I simple told the children's director "God did not give me the gift of working with young children. I am not the right person to do that job." and continue to do so every time she asks. I took a break from working in the nursery even quarterly for a while and when I agreed to go back on the rotation, it was with the understanding I would be put in the baby room (where they are too little to talk back yet). I just don't have a lot of patience with other children who refuse to mind. Mine aren't perfect but at least I can issue some consequences.

 

I think them expecting every parent to volunteer every week is unreasonable. My children wouldn't be in that AWANA program.

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What I would do is to contact the leaders and tell them that you would really like your dc to have the benefit of Awanas at your church BUT that you are not able to volunteer. I would tell them that if that isn't ok then you will not send them (I would do this matter of factly because that's all it is - a fact, not a manipulation). I would not give them reasons because that is an invitation for people to evaluate your reasons and only you know if your reasons are valid for you, your stamina, mental health, spiritual health etc. If they asked for reasons I would gently but firmly say that I'm not willing to discuss my reasons because I am not willing to have them evaluated. I would tell them that I do understand that they need volunteers to keep things running and do not fault them for that. Then I would let the chips fall where they may.

 

:iagree:

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Is there some way you can volunteer by doing something at home on your own time? Cutting things out? Baking something? I don't know what kind of activities they do, but surely there must be something you can help with that won't require you being there. It makes no sense to expect every parent to be there every week. If there isn't anything you can do from home, then don't feel bad about telling them that you simply cannot do it. If you don't stand up for you, no one else will either! :)

:grouphug:

 

J

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Sounds like a weird requirement for an AWANA program but maybe they just didn't have enough volunteers to run it this year? I can see asking parents to volunteer at least one time, but weekly is a bit much. I always thought AWANA was an outreach kind of thing... not a co-op.

 

I would just be honest, call and say "I'm overwhelmed with toddler, husband traveling, etc... so I can't make time to volunteer right now. If it means my kids can't participate this year, I understand. But, if there is something I can do from home now and then, maybe stuff envelopes for a mailing or bake cookies and send them with the kids for a party, I'd be happy to help out in a limited capacity."

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How big is your church? AWANAS is a HUGE undertaking and many smaller churches simply don't have the number of volunteers to put it on. We drop our DD9 off at an AWANA program at a really big church. This way, I don't feel guilty. (I volunteer plenty, just not at AWANA.) I do understand the requirement at a smaller church since without it, they may not even be able to offer the program. Maybe you could take your kids to a bigger church. You don't have to attend. We don't attend where my DD9 goes to AWANA.

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Hmmm, I realize AWANA is a big undertaking for a church. I'm confused why they would offer it if they don't already have all the help they need though. I volunteered at our home church's VBS, and children's ministry this summer (to give the staff a break) and I was happy to do it.

I realize that working parents are being asked to volunteer - it's directed at all parents unless they are sending an unchurched child.

Someone mentioned not saying that I homeschool - would that make me look bad :001_huh: - selfish homeschool moms just a-droppin' their kids off any old place :tongue_smilie: so they can lounge and eat bon bons? Obviously, I'm kidding. I'm also tired just thinking about adding something else to my to do list. It may be that my girls go and my son misses out (he has Scouts the night another church offers AWANA)

He will be very disappointed. I just hate things like this!

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Other parents work outside the home full time and they are expected to help so that's why I don't think homeschooling will matter. The best you can do is talk with the pastor and see what you can come up with. Are you helping in other ways at your church? Different people have different ministries.

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I'd simply say that my dh travels for work, and I don't have child care for my toddler.

 

The reason they're asking all parents is probably because 80% or more will have a reason they can't. They're aiming at the 20% they might be able to get that hadn't considered it before.

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I wouldn't mention dh traveling either. Then I get the "single mom" pity. Or the questions about how much intereaction Dad has with the kids. :( My life is not nearly as difficult as a single mom's life. And my DH does not neglect us because he travels for his job. And then there was the comment about how surprised they are that my children are so well-adjusted with a father who travels so much. :glare: Um, thanks, I think. This wasn't coming from Awana just from various people. So I don't offer that information any longer except to my closest friends.

 

I agree to just say up front that you can't help and not offer an explanation. But you shouldn't feel bad as to your reasons why you can't help. I think you are justified with your reasons.

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I love getting all these different opinions. It's really helpful.

 

The church hosting AWANA isn't my church, so it's not like they'd say - oh yeah she's already involved here.

 

I will see if I can help out in a limited capacity - if that's not acceptable, then no AWANA for us.

Kids not being able to have access to a quality program at church b/c mom is wrung out is a whole other thread!

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Sounds like a weird requirement for an AWANA program but maybe they just didn't have enough volunteers to run it this year? I can see asking parents to volunteer at least one time, but weekly is a bit much. I always thought AWANA was an outreach kind of thing... not a co-op.

 

I would just be honest, call and say "I'm overwhelmed with toddler, husband traveling, etc... so I can't make time to volunteer right now. If it means my kids can't participate this year, I understand. But, if there is something I can do from home now and then, maybe stuff envelopes for a mailing or bake cookies and send them with the kids for a party, I'd be happy to help out in a limited capacity."

 

:iagree:

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We do Awana's at our church too, but Awana's is a huge drain on a church! It simply takes all the volunteer time of most of the church, it seems. Though I understand it's good for the children, it's a very hard commitment for the adults. At our church they are begging for volunteers until even after they've started.

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"Must volunteer" sounds like an oxymoron to me.

I'd be honest with the organizers and see how they respond. Volunteer less frequently if you are able. Donate money, food, or whatever if you are able to do that. If you aren't in a position to give anything, just tell them this and ask whether your children can attend anyway.

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I haven't read most of the replies, but most AWANA's don't make the parents volunteer. I did read that you wanted to stay at that particular AWANA. It surprises me, because when one is forced to volunteer, it's not really volunteering. I don't think I'd want someone working with my child who didn't really want to be there. Is there no cost involved to have your kids participate? Could you volunteer to do something like "donate treats"? Are you in a position to pay extra? Or you could volunteer to help with a special event (like Sparky drive-in) rather than weekly?

 

I would just tell them you are not available on a weekly basis, and that you will be caring for your toddler. See what they say.

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I agree that you should be honest about your reasons for not wanting to volunteer, and maybe they will excuse you or find a way that you can help out during a different time so that you have free time while your kids are at AWANA.

 

I understand the church's position. AWANA requires a tremendous number of volunteers, and our church had to drop it because of that. We had about 650 kids participating, and just administrating the awards was a huge undertaking, let alone books, t-shirts, snacks, and teaching.

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At our church, they wait-list kids instead of forcing parents to volunteer. So my son is wait-listed this year because it took us so long to register him. I'm not going to volunteer to teach this year. I have done so in the past but I just cannot do it this year. It seems a better alternative to forcing parent to participate.

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Other parents work outside the home full time and they are expected to help so that's why I don't think homeschooling will matter. The best you can do is talk with the pastor and see what you can come up with. Are you helping in other ways at your church? Different people have different ministries.

 

I think the main difference is the fact that hs'ing moms are already around kids all day. I know I've been in churches where exceptions to volunteering w/ kids were made for ps teachers for the same reason.

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However, I don't want to teach class for toddlers or your third grader thankyouverymuch. That is not my gifting, I can do it, but it wears me out and is NOT a blessing to the 1-10 yo people that have me for a teacher.

 

 

:iagree: Bless you all that wired to teach young children. I.am.not. I would not sign up my child is weekly volunteering was required, then it becomes another activity for us, not just for him.

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I help with the store a couple of times a year and am always available to bring snacks. I also make sure my kids are well prepared, on time and ready to recite a bunch of verses. I also pray for everyone who leads and serves. Then, for us, it's date night. Maybe if you volunteer to help (not run!) the store or a special thing during the year then you could continue with the time off that you need. (I feel your pain - DH will resume the nutty travel schedule in spring.)

 

ETA - I had one mom tell me what a great thing it is to work with her kid during AWANA and that I should really consider it. I smiled as politely as possible and let he know I homeshcool. I know that blessing. I am rich in that one. ;) I

Edited by Kayaking Mom
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it's Thursday night and my son has Scouts on Wednesday. I wanted the kids to be able to go to the same place. Other area AWANAS are all on Wednesday when his scout program is! We're in the South Bay are (South of LAX)

It's not my home church - they don't have AWANA.

I searched the AWANA website for other churches - wednesday seems to be a popular night around here. 2 other churches offered AWANA - but I couldn't tell what night b/c the website was all in an asian language I don't know :lol: :lol:

I was excited to have my new 3 year old attend with the big kids and have 90 minutes to myself. Now I feel like a guilt wracked loser who won't lift a finger to help the church. Homeschooling and voulunteering at other various hsing and church things seem like they won't be viewed favorably.

Sigh.

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That's a tough one. I have been on the other side of it - I headed up our church's Wednesday night program - Pioneer Clubs (similar to Awana) and the bottom line is... someone has to teach the kids. I don't agree with mandatory volunteering and I agree with the posters that said everyone has different gifts. Some people just aren't cut out for teaching young children and they sing on the worship team, or do something else. That's fine. For reasons I won't go into, our church will not be running any sort of Wed. night program this fall and I've considered putting our kids in Awana at another church and I know that church is also hard up for staff, so I was planning on volunteering. Simply because I don't think it would be right for me, a Christian and a member of another church, to just drop my kids off and not offer to help in any way. As it is, we are not going to put our kids in that program, so it's a moot point anyway, but it is terribly hard for churches to get anyone to do anything. A good portion of the congregation just comes on SUnday morning and that's about it.

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Your reasons are no one else's business. A simple "It is not possible for me to volunteer regularly at this time." is all that is necessary. If they push then you could always add "I'm sorry, I'm not available that night". I seriously doubt they will disallow your children to attend. If they kick your kids out of AWANA because you are not able to be there every week you will have to deal with that then. I just can't imagine that happening, or me wanting to be involved in a church that would do that.

 

I doubt so strongly that they would that I would play the wide eyed innocent game:D I would just never ever speak of it. I would never call and explain or bring it up. If ever approached with "when are you volunteering" or what job are you going to do " then I would use the above I'm not available. Sometimes, you simply can't do another thing. And it's unfair that your kids have to be left out because you're not superwoman. Awana is a ministry in more ways than one. Let being able to have 90 minutes or so of non child time their ministry to you.

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Could you offer to help once per month when asking for the exception?

 

Or - is there something you could do from home instead - prepping materials or crafts or making phone calls?

 

I don't think its unreasonable, but I think you might have to make the hard decision of not participating this year. I hope they can work with you!

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that's a good enough reason for not helping. It's what I use when my kids are signed up for their extras. I tell everyone that one of the reasons my children are signed up is so I can take breaks. I have them all day long and even if I do stick around to watch I am not in charge of them and it's my mental break. they should be understanding of the situation.

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For the first time in a long time I am not teaching Wednesday nights at church. I am also not teaching Sundays and I did not help with VBS. Teaching my special needs son at home and caring for my busy special needs dd3 is exhausting this year. Not to mention I have some other personal issues happening and mentally I just don't have it available. I did tell the deacon in charge of classes that I would consider teaching again if it wasn't the same class as my dd because I just need a break from her. I volunteered to make visual aids, prepare curriculum, and bring cnacks, or even to occassionally substitute, but I just can't handle the full time responsibility of teaching or of another full time commitment. Mentally I am just tired and over committing doesn't help anyone because I dont' do anything well.

 

You just need to call someone in charge and let them know that your dh's job is often out of town and unpredictable levaing you as a single full time mom. That is even more true since you homeschool. You need a break to care for some family needs** without the children, and your children need a good program to help build their own Christian faith. If you have to work each session you will be forced to drop AWANAS or go to another church for this because this time and location is no longer ging to work out..

 

** Caring for family needs is caring for you. If you don't care for yourself the rest of the family suffers.

 

Is this group requiring volunteers because it does have a large number of unchurched children? If they have abus ministry or the like, they may be needing every hand they can get. If this is the case, it may be that it isn't a good location for the kids after all.

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You don't sound unreasonable to me. What sounds unreasonable is to expect every parent to participate, Christian or not. (I'm a Christian and I hate being obligated or guilted into service at church). I don't think it's wrong for Christian parents to use these programs as a "break" and the fact that the church or the leaders don't approve of that could be a bad sign, in my opinion. If they won't let your kids participate unless you volunteer, you could explain the reason why you want your kids to be in the program, but the honest reasons why you don't want to be volunteering. I would not feel guilty that it is a "want" and not a "need." Or, you could choose something in your schedule to give up and volunteer at AWANA so your kids can go... you could make that more of a priority over something else you are doing. If you can't do that, you could consider taking the kids to another AWANA program in the area... If you do this, I think you should send a letter explaining why, kindly and gently, so as not to cause any more offense than necessary. Good luck. I hope your kids can participate. I love AWANA. :)

Edited by VBoulden
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I just spoke with the AWANA commander and explained that my kids attended AWANA last year and enjoyed it and that they'd like to attend again but I can't volunteer.

Dead silence.

I then said that I really loved how AWANA worked with what we're teaching our kids at home and with our homeschooling but that my dh's job keeps him traveling 15-20 days a month and that I am a full time homeschooling single mom and that I need a break. I asked if my kids would be excluded from a church function like AWANA b/c their mom is exhausted and unable to volunteer.

He hemmed and hawed and said that they don't have the volunteers in place and they are trusting God to provide.

I asked how they can offer a program to the community but not have the staffing to run it - I prefaced this by saying that I wasn't attacking him I was just curious and feeling sorry for the kids.

He said that the church is working on it but they don't have a Cubbies leader, etc and that they we're trying to pull it all together ...and that I should mail in my forms and call to see in about 10 days. Or look into other AWANA in the area - I told him I did and the reason we liked this one was b/c the kids were familiar with the church, could all go together and my son was in Scouts on the night other churches offered AWANA.

I again said I wondered how they could offer a program to the communtiy but not be "ready" ...I added that I would hate for my kids to be made to feel less worthy b/c they were coming without a parent worker.

I only brought that up b/c he mentioned not everyone can have extenuating circumstances.

I am heartbroken for my kids. And for the other kids who have parents who won't be able to volunteer weekly to run this program...

and I feel like a terrible no good parent b/c i know I won't be able to handle it all and volunteer.

Anyhow, that's the report from here.

I just want to say that i really appreciate all you moms and dads that have time and energy (or can at least fake it) to serve in programs like this. I served in these types of ministries in my home church in PA (sunday school, nursery, vbs, food delivery to sick congrgants, nurse check ups -, cleaning the church weekly) and I'm pretty burned out at this point in my life - I know I need a break before I can get back to helping again.

Keep up the good work - the rest of us appreciate you!

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I am heartbroken for my kids. And for the other kids who have parents who won't be able to volunteer weekly to run this program...

 

My kids' AWANAS program was ended this summer, too, w/out much notice to parents--we just found out a week or two ago. I completely understand how you feel. They're doing some other program, but...I change slowly. I don't like being forced to change, lol, so now I have until...Wed, I think? to decide whether to try to find another AWANAS or try the church's program.:glare:

 

and I feel like a terrible no good parent b/c i know I won't be able to handle it all and volunteer.

 

I don't know how to say this. But...it's a TREASURE that you have the ability to know when to say no. Your kids will be so much better off for you knowing that you can't do something.

 

Besides that, though--this church may not be offering AWANAS this yr. Let's say you DID volunteer & enroll your dc. In a month or so, if there aren't enough other volunteers, the program gets closed OR you're having to do double or triple volunteer duty.

 

Saying no in this case probably hasn't cost your kids anything. There's NOT a Thurs night AWANAS at this church. They *hope* to have one, that's all.

 

:grouphug:

 

Any chance your ds could do scouts on another night?

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